Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 58
Goals Without Means

The less a leader does and says,
The happier the people.
The more a leader struts and controls,
The more discontent.

Misery lurks under good fortune,
Happiness hides under misery.
Since nothing is certain,
Who knows what the future holds?

Happiness and misery alternate like the seasons:
Honesty becomes deception,
The fortunate becomes unfortunate,
The ominous becomes auspicious
And our bewilderment goes on and on.

And so the wise become:
An edge that doesn’t cut,
A point that doesn’t pierce,
A line that doesn’t extend,
A light that doesn’t shine.

Commentary

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”

Vyasa व्यास
c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Livelihood

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“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Themes: Happiness Mind

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“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”

Plato Πλάτων
428 – 348 BCE
from Republic Πολιτεία

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“Education and study confer no greater benefit than learn to avoid the wildness of extremes.”

Plutarch
(Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus)
46 – 120 CE

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“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”

Marcus Aurelius
121 – 219 CE

Themes: Money

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“If there is an ‘owner’ then there is something that can be ‘owned.’ But if from the beginning there never has been a ‘self,’ then what ‘owned’ can there be?”

Saraha
8th century CE

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“When the bottom is filled with rubbish, just walk though the sludge.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺
(Shōgaku)
1091 – 1157 CE

Themes: Mistakes

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“When the government leaves power with the people… makes no demands, the people respond with openness instead of deception. When the government makes demands, the people use every means to escape.”

Li Xizhai via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
12th century CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

Themes: Power Openness

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“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government… government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worse state, an intolerable one.”

Thomas Paine
1737 – 1809 CE

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“Better to shun the bait than struggle in the snare.”

William Blake
1757 – 1827 CE

Themes: Competition

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“whenever the conscious mind clings to hard and fast concepts and gets caught in its own rules and regulations - as is unavoidable and of the essence of civilized consciousness - nature pops up with her inescapable demands.”

Carl Jung
1875 – 1961 CE

Themes: Opinion Reality

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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Reality Illusion

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“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”

Teilhard de Chardin via Bernard Wall
1881 – 1955 CE
from Divine Milieu

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“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

A.A. Milne
(Alan Alexander Milne)
1882 – 1956 CE
from Winnie the Pooh

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“Spare me the political events and power struggles, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen.”

Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931 CE

Themes: Competition

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“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence—those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse. And while you people are over consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

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“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Themes: Death and Dying

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“All the present bureaucracies of political governments, great religious organizations, and all big businesses find that physical success for all humanity would be devastating to the perpetuation of their ongoing activities.”

Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983 CE

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“People make mistakes in life through believing too much, but they have a damned dull time if they believe too little.”

James Hilton
1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Themes: Mistakes Belief

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“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”

Eric Fromm
1900 – 1980 CE
from The Sane Society

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We believe that to govern perfectly it is necessary to avoid governing too much.

James Hilton
1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Themes: Government

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“Relative mind is the mind which sets itself in relation to other things, thus limiting itself. It is this small mind which creates gaining ideas and leaves traces of itself.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

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“The ownership and the consumption of goods is a means to an end, and Buddhist economics is the systematic study of how to attain given ends with the minimum means.”

E. F. Schumacher
1911 – 1977 CE
from Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered

Themes: Economics

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“The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.”

Audrey Hepburn
1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Happiness

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“Taoists gain their ends without the use of means. That is indeed a light that does not shine.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Taoism

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“An enlightened end has no means.”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –

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“Although almost all our attention goes toward the surface, the form of government; the deep importance and influence has much less to do with the description, the name - much more to with integrity of the people involved.”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –
from Tao Te Ching — The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words

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“The promoters of the global economy...see nothing odd or difficult about unlimited economic growth or unlimited consumption in a limited world.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Capitalism

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“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction?”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Greed Consumerism

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“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso
1935 CE –

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“The tantric tradition builds us up so we do not have to relate at the level of a donkey reaching for a carrot anymore. The donkey has the carrot already”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

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“We didn't know it was possible to be happy all the time. We didn't know you could have a heart without any heckpoints.”

Stephen Mitchell
1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

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“Happiness is a flimsy premise upon which to base one’s life.”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ།
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
1961 CE –
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

Themes: Happiness

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